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-   -   Apple to probe death of Chinese woman who used iPhone when it was charging (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=86336)

snopes 15 July 2013 06:02 PM

Apple to probe death of Chinese woman who used iPhone when it was charging
 
Apple Inc is investigating an accident in which a Chinese woman was killed by an electric shock when answering a call on her iPhone 5 while it was charging.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...96E08P20130715

WildaBeast 15 July 2013 09:38 PM

I'm not sure how this would be possible, at least on an American iPhone. iPhones charge via a USB cable, so you can charge it either by plugging it into your computer's USB port, or they provide a little transformer with a USB port on it that you can plug in to the wall. Either way the voltage at the phone shouldn't be any more than 5 volts. I suppose it's possible the transformer was defective and was putting out way more than 5 volts. But if say the mains voltage was somehow shorted to the output (I assume that would be 220V in China, but I don't feel like looking it up), I would expect that to fry the phone in short order before she could receive a call on it. I also kind of wonder if she was using some dodgy third party charger instead of the one provided by Apple.

musicgeek 16 July 2013 01:47 AM

Yep, very weird, which is probably why Apple is investigating. I've taken 48V zaps from phantom power via bad mics, and they hurt like heck, but that's about it. I can't see this being the fault of an iPhone, even a defective one.

dungeondragon18 25 July 2013 06:41 PM

It's not the voltage that determines how dangerous an electric shock is, it's the amperage. (Voltage is a measure of "pressure", for lack of a better word, and amperage is a measure of "volume", or how many electrons are passing through the circuit.) It also depends on which body part is being shocked; a jolt that passes through the chest is more likely to kill you than a jolt that goes up your arm and down a leg into the ground.

WildaBeast 25 July 2013 07:28 PM

But the human body is essentially a big resistor. Since Ohm's Law says I = V/R, it takes a high voltage to overcome the resistance of the human body and push enough current through it to do damage. A 5V USB charger won't do it regardless of what kind of amperage it's capable of producing, since the resistance is too high.

jimmy101_again 25 July 2013 07:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WildaBeast (Post 1755043)
But the human body is essentially a big resistor. Since Ohm's Law says I = V/R, it takes a high voltage to overcome the resistance of the human body and push enough current through it to do damage. A 5V USB charger won't do it regardless of what kind of amperage it's capable of producing, since the resistance is too high.

The Resistance of a human body is pretty low, the resistance of human skin is very high. Under certain conditions 9V is high enough and I would SWAG it that 5V would be high enough as well to get a shock (though not so sure about killing). You would need to penetrate the skin or contact a salty and wet surface like the tongue.

In the cased of the OP though it seems likely that there was a short to the mains voltage, assuming she was indeed electrocuted by her phone.

Edit: For reference, external defibrillators use 1,000 to 2,000V and have to overcome the skin's resistance. An implanted defibrillator, whose electrodes are basically bathed in salt water, might work as low as 20V (new type of implanted defibrillator).

UrbanLegends101 26 July 2013 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimmy101_again (Post 1755056)
You would need to ...contact a salty and wet surface like the tongue.

Wait, isn't that how we always tested 9-volt batteries?

jimmy101_again 26 July 2013 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UrbanLegends101 (Post 1755214)
Wait, isn't that how we always tested 9-volt batteries?

Yep. :eek:

GenYus234 26 July 2013 04:01 PM

Since most people do not have their heart in the middle of their tongue, I think it is probably okay.

Mad Jay 26 July 2013 04:07 PM

While we are on the subject:- Does a charged battery taste differrent to people than a depleted one? To me, a charged battery tastes more salty. I never knew why that was. Maybe the electricity activates the salt taste buds

GenYus234 26 July 2013 04:20 PM

It depends on the battery, Duracell batteries have a bit of salty with a piquant after of moss if they are charged. But Energizer batteries have hints of spice with a strong nose when they are charged.

ETA: Make sure to lick a galvanized nail between to cleanse your palate.

Arriah 26 July 2013 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1755288)
Since most people do not have their heart in the middle of their tongue, I think it is probably okay.

Most? I'd like to see your medical license, sir.

jimmy101_again 26 July 2013 06:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1755288)
Since most people do not have their heart in the middle of their tongue, I think it is probably okay.

True, but the tongue is just an example. I've been shocked by 12V car batteries.<sup>&dagger;</sup> That shouldn't be possible given the high resistance of skin and the low voltage. But let a single strand of a car's 12V battery cable poke through your skin while you are holding onto a metal part of the car with the other and :eek: . Not sure if that could kill a person, even in the worst case, but it sure got my attention when it happened.

<sup>&dagger;</sup> Not on my tongue.

BoKu 06 August 2013 05:32 PM

Apple offers $10 trade-ins for third-party chargers
 
This program has almost certainly been prompted by reports from last month, which alleged that an iPhone had electrocuted and killed a Chinese flight attendant. Later reports pointed to a third-party charger, not the phone itself, as the actual culprit.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/06/tech/m...ade/index.html


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